Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Is What Happens!

As far as I'm concerned, there are few things I enjoy more than attending a topnotch children's literature conference/festival/institute. From Thursday evening through early Sunday afternoon, I was having a grand old time at Food, Glorious Food!, the 2007 Children's Literature Institute at Simmons College in Boston.

Every time I attend one of these events I just can't help myself. I say I'm only going to buy a few books...but I'm a glutton for children's literature. Here's a sampling of the "few" books I got that were written and/or illustrated by presenters at the institute--and by fellow blogger Leo Landry.










That's just a sampling of the books I brought home.

I hope to post briefly about the institute later this week. Be forewarned--I take very few notes...and my memory isn't what it used to be.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Poetry Friday: A Fairy Tale Poem

When I was an elementary classroom teacher, I did an extensive unit on folklore. I like the old fairy tales and folktales--not the sanitized versions, but the traditional retellings, including the "grim" Grimm tales in which Snow White's stepmother dances to her death in hot iron shoes...and the nasty stepsisters of Ashputtle (Cinderella) get their eyes pecked out by birds.

I also enjoyed reading modern humorous picture book versions of old tales to my students when I was a school librarian. To name a few of the books I read: Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, Goldie and the Three Bears by Diane Stanley, Henny Penny by Jane Wattenberg, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman.

With these old tales in mind, I selected the following poem for this Poetry Friday. I hope you like it.

Lisel Mueller

In Sleeping Beauty's castle
the clock strikes one hundred years
and the girl in the tower returns to the
So do the servants in the kitchen,
who don't even rub their eyes.
The cook's right hand, lifted
an exact century ago,
completes its downward arc
to the kitchen boy's left ear;
the boy's tensed vocal cords
finally let go
the trapped, enduring whimper,
the fly, arrested mid-plunge
above the strawberry pie,
fulfills its abiding mission
and dives into the sweet, red glaze.

You can read the rest of the poem here at Poetry 180.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

I'll be spending the next few days at the Children's Literature Institute, Food, Glorious Food!, at Simmons College in Boston. According to the brochure:

The summer symposium and institute seek to satisfy our appetite for reading and talking about fine books for children and young adults. Food, Glorious Food! will also consider the way food operates in books for children and young adults beyond physical sustenance.

Here's a list of the guest speakers: Marc Aronson, Natalie Babbitt, Marina Budhos, Jack Gantos, Barry Goldblatt, Alice Hoffman, Polly Horvath, Angela Johnson, David Macaulay, Richard Michelson, Sy Montgomery, Kadir Nelson, Jerry Pinkney, Matthew Reinhart, Deborah Stevenson, Roger Sutton, Nancy Werlin, and Arthur Yorinks.

Not a bad line-up...huh?

I'm not sure I'll post on Poetry Friday. I'll try--but it takes me forever to write my reviews, etc., because I don't have a word processing program on the laptop I'm using. Hope to hear soon about the status of my hard drive and which files were retrieved. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If I Built a Car

Written & illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Penguin, 2005

Chris Van Dusen is also the illustrator of the Mercy Watson books written by Kate DiCamillo. His style of illustrating is very much the same in If I Built a Car, which is a recipient of the E. B. White Read Aloud Award.

In the book's author blurb, Van Dusen tells readers that he "has always been intrigued by glimpses of the future found in the 1950s and '60s issues of Popular Science magazine. Headlines would read The Car of Tomorrow!, and fantastic artwork might show sleek machines zooming down 'magnetic highways.'" Van Dusen's artwork in If I Built a Car certainly transported me back to the 1950s. It reminded me of the glimpses of the future we saw in magazines and on television back then. I'd like to note that I asked my husband to read the book last night and give me his opinion. My husband, who used to read Popular Science when he was a kid, loved the book!

If I Built a Car isn't a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It's a book written in verse in which a young boy relates to his father the kind of car that he would like to design and build. It's a book about using one's imagination and having dreams.

About the Book: Jack, the young narrator, tells his dad what his "future" car will be like while they are out driving. Jack explains to his dad what materials the car will be made from, the elements of its design, and all the nifty features it will have.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

You'll see that I've added a lot of neat things:
Plush fender skirts and retractable wings,
Three headlights up front, four taillights in back,
Plus two giant fins like our old Cadillac!
My brand-new design will be curvy and round,
With special jet engines that don't make a sound.
I'll paint it bright colors with accents of chrome
And top it all off with a Plexiglas dome.

The illustration that accompanies this excerpt is a two-page spread that shows what Jack imagines his car will look like. The gouache painting of the huge car is bright and colorful. Through the semi-transparent dome, we can see the outline of shapes. Is that a robot at the wheel? Is that a table lamp? Kids will certainly want to see what's under the dome of Jack's imaginary car.

In addition to the the fins and dome and jet engines and retractable wings, Jack explains that his car will also have a chassis made of polymer gel--his invention--that will prevent the car from getting dented if it should hit something. Some of the other features of his auto include a couch, a fish tank, a fireplace, a pool beneath a sliding floor, an instant snack bar, and (yes) a robot to steer the vehicle when the driver gets sleepy! But...wait...that's not all! The fenders of Jack's car will let it float on water like a catamaran. The car will also be able to submerge so the driver and passengers can investigate underwater. And the best feature of all?

Last but not least, the best feature of all
Comes down to a button that's shiny and small.
Push it and then, in the wink of an eye,
The car will take off! We'll be up in the sky!

I think Van Dusen's colorful retro-style illustrations are a perfect complement to his rhyming text. Even really young children who can't read could have a grand time studying the pictures of Jack's futuristic car. The front and back endpapers are filled with Jack's labeled sketches of his car's design. They'd be a great inspiration for young artists.

I know I would have loved this book when I was young. I think any kid who is a daydreamer would. It's a perfect picture book for kids who are mechanically inclined...for kids who like to draw...for kids who like to build things. It's definitely a great book for budding engineers. I am planning to give If I Built a Car to a grand nephew for summer reading. I bet he'll be inspired to design his own car of the future!

Bet you'd like to see the illustration of Jack's instant snack bar! Just click here.

Click here to see Jack's car blasting out of the water into the sky.

If I Built a Car is on the 2008 Master List of the Monarch Award sponsored by the Illinois School Library Media Association.

Monday, July 23, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: July 23, 2007

At American Indians in Children's Literature, Debbie Reese has posted a "provocative essay" by Beverly Slapin entitled How to Turn a Traditional Indian Story into a Children's Book (for fun and profit).

Read all about MotherReader's Summer Contest for Cassie Was Here. Check out her follow-up post Summer Poem, Summer Contest, too!

Nancy at Journey Woman is also having a contest to celebrate her first anniversary as a blogger. Check out the contest rules here.

The Poetry Friday Roundup for July 20th is at Mentor Texts & More.

The next edition of The Edge of the Forest will soon be published.

Check out the new photos and updates in Joyce Sidman's nature journal Nesting with Robins.

Anna Alter, one of the Blue Rose Girls, shows us a work-in-progress from her future book What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe. See how Anna went from this sketch of a bunny

to this final draft of a full color illustration.

Thanks for letting us in our your artistic process, Anna!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Over in the Garden

Recently, I reviewed Hotel Deep, a fine collection of poems about sea creatures that was written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Today, we'll mosey over to the garden where I'll review two books in which we'll find out about the goings on of an assortment of insects and other "buggy" things that hang out in the flowers and greenery...the fruits and the vegetables.


Written & illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
Harcourt, 2001

Oddhopper Opera is another great combination of poetry and art brought to us by the talented Kurt Cyrus. The format of this book is much the same as that of Hotel Deep. This is a collection of untitled poems connected by a theme. Once the temperature gets to sixty degrees, the little "bugs" start hopping and kicking and thrashing and thumping/Rooting and scooting and jabbing and jumping/Bouncing and biting and buzzing and bumping.

In Cyrus's "garden of verses" ants boink heads, snails have a race, dung beetles roll balls of dung, a frog bemoans its diet of maggots, worms, and flies, a sly snake slithers around like a belly with a head stuck on, a fly insists a maggot can't be his progeny, a spider with a pugnacious personality becomes bird food, and crickets and katydids and other little critters that indulge themselves to bursting in the luscious garden bounty end up with bellyaches.

This is certainly a light-hearted look at the experiences and activities of insects and other creatures that inhabit a garden. I found myself chuckling aloud as I read some of the poems. Cyrus has a good feel for meter and his poems scan well. I have little doubt that this book will appeal to kids. I know I would enjoy sharing this poetry book with a classroom of elementary children.

Here are two excerpts from the book:

All of the snails are starting a race.
Give 'em some room! Give 'em some space!
Give 'em the go-ahead! Give 'em a cheer!
These are the things that they hanker to hear.
Give them a holler, a nod, and a nudge...
Give them a minute, and see if they budge.

And after the bugs gobble and gulp and cram down rutabags and red potatoes, cabbages and beans, pumpkins and collard greens:

Beetle has a bellyache, Weevil has a cramp.
Mama Pitter-Patter-Pede is belching like a champ.
Katydidn't, Cricket wouldn't, Hopper couldn't chirp.
All they do is roll around and burp, burp, burp.

Young kids and adults alike will get a kick out of Cyrus's "Bug's Garden of Verses."

Written by Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler
Scholastic, 2002

Over in the Garden uses the rhythm and structure of "Over in the Meadow" in this counting book about praying mantises and ladybugs...snails and dragonflies...bees, butterflies, fireflies, spiders, soldier and worker ants...and a little critter with a lot of names--the roly-poly aka wood louse, sow, bug, and pill bug. In a text that maintains near-perfect rhythm from beginning to end, the aforementioned creatures are plenty active in a garden setting as they pounce, crawl over petals, zip, slither on the damp, earthy floor, jump, nibble, roll, glow, and march up a long, curly vine.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Over in the garden where the sunflowers grew
Lived a mother ladybug and her little beetles two.
"Crawl!" said the mother. "We crawl!" said the two.
So they crawled over petals where the sunflowers grew.

Included in the Back Matter of the Book:

  • First stanza and music for Over in the Garden

  • Fun Facts with further information about the insects and bugs named in the verses--as well as explanations of the following terms: larva, nymph, metamorphosis, arachnid, and arthropod

The author consulted Dr. Elizabeth A. Bernays who is Regents' Professor Emeritus and Joint Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona.

List of Children's Books about Gardens from Clemson University

Click here for my review of Busy in the Garden by George Shannon

Click here for my review of I Heard It from Alice Zucchini: Poems about the Garden

Click here to read Colleen Mondor's review of Oddhopper Opera

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Sounds of Summer

Some time ago I received a copy of Betsy Franco's Summer Beat from Simon & Schuster. After I read it, I put it aside. I have to admit that I wasn't too impressed with the book, which is written in verse, upon my first reading. I just couldn't get the rhythm. I guess I'm glad I have the policy of only writing positive reviews for Wild Rose Reader...because I pulled Summer Beat off the shelf the other day and reread it a few more times. I finally got into the rhythm of the text.

Summer Beat, like David A. Johnson's Snow Sounds, is an onomatopoeic story. But Summer Beat focuses on the sounds of summer. In addition to the onomatopoeic words, it has a text written in rhyme that tells the tale of two young friends as they pass one fun-filled summer day together.

About Summer Beat: Em, a young girl, skateboards over to Joe's house and the two friends spend the day immersed in a myriad of typical childhood summertime activities: running through a sprinkler, swinging on a hammock, eating barbecued hamburgers outdoors, spitting watermelon seeds, playing with water balloons, waving sparklers in the air, competing in a three-legged race, having a parade with friends, and watching fireworks. Betsy Franco lets readers experience the sounds the children hear as they go through the day: the clackity clack of a skateboard rolling along on the sidewalk; the swish swoosh of a swaying hammock; the bizzle-bzzz of a bumblebee; the pat a tat tat of a soft summer rain; the fwit, fwit of watermelon seeds being spit out; the pop! spltt! of a water balloon as it smacks the ground, the Zeeeeeeeeeeeee bam bam and Fooooooooosh boom of fireworks exploding in the sky.

Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Charlotte Middleton
Margaret K. McElderry, 2007

While Charlotte Middleton's uncluttered mixed media illustrations may not evoke the feeling of summer weather the way David A. Johnson's do a snowy winter's day--they definitely capture the youthful exuberance of young children taking part in and enjoying different activities on a carefree summer day. Many of the illustrations are set against a plain background and provide plenty of space for Franco's onomatopoeic words--printed in different sizes and font styles--to take center stage as they swerve, curve, slant, and bounce across and up and down on the pages.

I can honestly say that once I got into the swing of the text that the book brought back fond memories of my childhood summers...times I spent playing outdoors and not inside in front of a television or at a computer. Summer Beat comes to a close as Em and Joe climb the ladder to a tree house and fall asleep...with Rusty, Joe's dog snuggled close by his side. We see/hear the snuffle, snort, snuffle, snort of their snoring inside their lofty bedroom as the last fireworks Boom and pop outside in the distance. The final sound of this day is the Treet-treet of two katydids strumming their music in a tree. The narrative text ends with the sentence: Summer sounds never stop.

A good pre-reading activity for Summer Beat would be to ask a group of children what sounds they associate with the summer season and make a list of all the ones they name. After the book is read aloud, children could add other sounds that Em and Joe heard that aren't already mentioned on their list. (Some summer sounds that come to my mind: the buzzing of mosquitoes, the tinkly music of an ice cream truck, the high-pitched droning sound of cicadas in the heat, the loud whining of lawnmowers.)

Read another review of Summer Beat at Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Over in the Ocean

Well...I'm back with two more books about the sea. This time the focus is on coral reefs.

Written by Sylvia A. Earle
Photographs by Wolcott Henry
National Geographic Society, 1999

Hello, Fish!: Visiting the Coral Reef is a nonfiction book for young children illustrated with wonderful underwater photographs taken by Wolcott Henry. Henry has explored coral reef areas in different parts of the world--including Hawaii, the Florida Keys, the Galapagos Islands, and Indonesia. The author, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, is a marine biologist with a Ph. D. from Duke University.

This book introduces readers to twelve different fish that live in and around coral reefs: spotted moray, clownfish, stargazer, silvertip shark, rainbow scorpionfish, brown goby, red goby, damselfish, striped catfish, frogfish, spotted stingray, and seahorse. Hello, Fish! begins with a brief introduction about fish and coral reefs and a world map in which reefs are shown in orange.

Format of the Book: Each fish is given a two-page spread that includes a large close-up photograph of the animal and a short informational paragraph. Above each paragraph, the fish is identified in large, bold letters and two short lines of colored text. Here's an excerpt from the book:

This curvy fish--what could it be?
A seahorse, with room to roam the sea.

Seahorses are small fish with large eyes.
They have a big appetite for tiny crustaceans.
Like people, they choose partners for life.
They usually stay together even during stormy weather.

The paragraph also explains how mother seahorses lay their eggs in the pouches that the father seahorses have in their bellies.

Hello, Fish! is not the kind of book one would read to get in-depth knowledge of the subject--but it's a fine book for young children to browse through. Children are sure to be intrigued by the underwater photographs--especially those of a spotted moray eel with its jaws opened wide, a stargazer that is indistinguishable from the sand and rocks under which it is camouflaged, a little brown goby peeking out from an empty worm tube, and a cluster of bewhiskered striped catfish. They will also see how brightly colored some of the reef inhabitants are.

Written by Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by Jeannette Canyon

Dawn Publications, 2004

Over in the Ocean is a counting book written in verse that follows the format and rhythm of "Over in the Meadow." There are many reasons to recommend this book. First, it's an excellent book to read aloud. Second, the book has an attractive layout and the colorful, three-dimensional illustrations, shaped entirely from polymer clay, are really gorgeous and eye-catching. Third, the number words are printed in different colors to distinguish them from the rest of the text. Next, the author includes the full text of Over in the Ocean on one page at the end of the book along with the music to which it is to be sung. Other resources included in the back matter are the following:

  • Additional information about the coral reef and the animals named in the book
  • Fingerplay Fun! with directions for different hand movements children can make when singing the song
  • Tips from the Artist
  • A Sampling of Nature Awareness Books from Dawn Publications

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Over in the ocean

Far away from the sun

Lived a mother octopus

And her octopus one.

"Squirt," said the mother.

"I squirt," said the one.

So they squirted in the reef

Far away from the sun.

The manuscript for Over in the Ocean was reviewed by the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: July 15, 2007

Stop by the Planet Esme to read her post about the Sydney Taylor Awards: Sydney Taylor Awards Kick Tokhes! Here's a link to a pdf list of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners and Notable Books.

Planning a midnight Harry Potter party? You may want to think about that. Check out my Potter Poopers post with a link to David Mehegan's article, This time, the Potter parties won't fly, which appeared in the Boston Globe yesterday.

Nature lovers and bird watchers should stop by poet Joyce Sidman's website and read her online journal Nesting with Robins. She's posted some great photos of newly hatched robins.

David Elsey has a review of How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? at Excelsior File. It sounds like a terrific picture book to connect to both math and science in an elementary classroom.

Susan T. has the Poetry Friday Roundup for July 13th at Chicken Spaghetti.

Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect is collecting entries for the 5th Edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors.

Reminder: Alkelda of Saints and Spinners will be hosting the 16th Carnival of Children's Literature. Deadline for submissions is July 20th.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Poetry Readings at Boston University

The Sixth Annual Summer Poetry Institute for Educators

Daily Poetry Readings
July 16-19th

These readings are co-hosted by The Favorite Poem Project and the Boston University School of Education. They are free and open to the public.

WHERE: Sargent College at 635 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston

WHEN: 3:45 to 4:30

Monday, July 16th - Mark Doty
Tuesday, July 17th - Heather McHugh
Wednesday, July 18th - Frank Bidart and Robert Pinsky
Thursday, July 19th - Gail Mazur

Potter Poopers

Planning on attending a midnight Harry Potter Party next week? Fuhgetaboutit!!! Well...maybe. Warner Brothers, which controls the movie and merchandise rights, is threatening legal action against booksellers and party organizers who are planning to have "unauthorized" celebrations. Warner Brothers has even written up a list of guidelines for retailers.

Read all about it in the Boston Globe in David Mehegan's "This time, the Potter parties won't fly."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Poetry Friday: Bed in Summer

Remember when you were little and had to go to bed in the summer while the bigger kids were still outside playing? Remember lying in bed listening to their shouts and laughter? Remember wishing that you were old enough to stay outside and play...after the street lights came on? With these memories in mind, I give you a classic poem by Stevenson and an original poem I wrote many years ago.

Bed in Summer
by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Here's my poem about Bed in Summer:

Bed in Summer
by Elaine Magliaro

Dark drifts in when I'm in bed.
Dreams whisper to my sleepy head.
Ice cubes clink into a glass.
Our sprinkler whirs and wets the grass.
Shouts of children still at play
Spark the night...then fade away.
Mosquitoes drone, crickets cheep.
Wrapped in summer sounds I'll sleep.

I wrote that poem from memory because my computer with all my poetry manuscripts crashed the other day...and I'm too lazy to look through my files of hard copies right now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Into the Sea Once More

Regular readers of my blog will have to bear with me while I await the return of my computer--that is, if the hard drive can be saved...or at least until I get the laptop I had been planning to buy this summer and have a word processor at my disposal once again. I have found it difficult writing drafts of my posts in longhand. Can't cut and past. I'm going CRAZY!!!

Nonetheless, here is a review of another sea-themed book for you. This one is a collection of twenty-one poems about creatures that dwell in the ocean--from moon snails, barnacles, and crayfish to marlins, manatees, and spiny lobsters.

Poems & Paintings by Kurt Cyrus
Harcourt, 2005

In Hotel Deep, we follow the journey of a lone sardine separated from its school as it encounters different sea creatures, evades the clutches of predators, and eventually is reunited with its fellow sardines. The untitled poems float on a background of luminous oil paintings. The realistic illustrations give readers glimpses of a beautiful--and at times dangerous--underwater world.

In some poems the text is printed vertically, in one it curves on swaying ribbons of seaweed, in another it encircles an inflated porcupine fish. Because of the textual arrangement...and because the "teller" of the poems changes at times from the voice of a third person narrator to that of one of the denizens of the deep, I recommend this book be read aloud to a child--at least the first time around.

About the story/poems: A marlin attacks a school of sardines. The sardines swivel around and go into a spin/Then scatter like sparks/when the hunter swoops in./A quicksilver blizzard! One sardine is left behind as the rest of the school swims away. The sardine goes off in search of its lost family. Along the way, it meets up with all manner of sea creatures--including anglerfish, a wentletrap, mackerel, an octopus, sea anemones, and a scary looking animal called a deep-sea swallower.

Here is an excerpt in which a stonefish, camouflaged to look like an undersea rock, speaks to the sardine and tries to entice it to come closer:

I'm a stone. A simple stone,

Overgrown with crust and weed.

You can see I'm just a stone.

Not a stonefish. No, indeed!

Just a random chunk of rubble

At the bottom of the sea.

I'm as harmless as a bubble

Who could be afraid of me?

Trust your eyes. I'm just a stone.

Come in closer. Then you'll see.

Cyrus's art is stunning! The two-page spreads captivate the eyes with their color, use of light, and composition. In one of my favorite illustrations, iridescent fish shimmer in dark blue water like stars in a winter sky. The poem that accompanies this illustration begins:

Silent night. Deepest night.

Tiny lights, like stars in motion,

Twinkle in and out of sight.

Has the sky become the ocean?

I have one small criticsm of the book: I wish the author had labeled the different sea creatures in small text on each page. At the end of the book, he does include a page with very small sections from all of the llustrations in which he labels the animals. But I found it quite confusing because the sections are so small and they're not arranged in the same order in which they appear in the book. That aside--I think Hotel Deep would be a fine book of poems to share with any child who has a keen interest in the ocean or to read aloud to children in a classroom during a unit of study of marine science.

Click here to view three of the illustrations from this book.

Awards for Hotel Deep: John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award, Skipping Stones Honor Award, Society of School Librarians International (SSLI) Honor Book

Other reviews of Hotel Deep can be found at Wordy Girls and Yellapalooza.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Bunch: A SEAsonal Selection

Since my computer crashed early Monday morning, it looks like I'll have to write my post directly on blogger because the laptop I have available doesn't have any word processing program. Oh well, I think you may see some typos.
Recently, I wrote reviews of two sea-themed books: Into the A, B, Sea and What the Sea Saw. I've got reviews of three more books about the sea. These are nonfiction picture books about tidepools.


Written by Anthony D. Fredericks

Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

Dawn Publications, 2002

Fredericks takes a non-typical approach with his nonfiction text. This book is a cumulative tale told in verse about a young girl observing the creatures in a tidepool: barnacles, fish, anemones, a blood-red sponge, crabs, snails, limpets, and a sea star. The names of all the creatures mentioned in the text are written in bold print throughout the book. This will be a help with word recognition--especially for children who are encountering these words for the first time.

Here is an excerpt to give you a flavor of the author's text:

Anemones with stinging cells

Hold fast to rocks and empty shells,

Friends to fish that dart and hide

And find their food in the surging tide,

Near barnacles with legs so small

That waved at the girl that watched them all.

In one tidepool, fun to explore,

A web of life on a rugged shore.

At the end of IN ONE TIDEPOOL, Fredericks includes a section called Field Notes, which contains information about the animals in the book. The author notes that all of the animals can be found on both coasts of North America--but that the specific species illustrated in the book live on the West Coast. He also provides a list of recommended books about seashore ecology. This is a good book for reading aloud to very young children to introduce them to the varied life that exists in tidepools.


Written by Alexandra Wright

Illustrated by Marshall Peck III

Charlesbridge, 1992

AT HOME IN THE TIDE POOL is the most typical nonfiction book of the three reviewed here. Information about animals that inhabit tide pools is given in clear, concise prose. Each two-page spread has a large color illustration, smaller spot illustrations of sea creatures that are labeled for identification, and one, two, or three short paragraphs of factual text. This book goes into more detail about tide pool creatures, their movements, and behavior. It also has a more advanced vocabulary. AT HOME IN THE TIDE POOL provides a good overview of the subject.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

The starfish wraps itself around a mussel and uses its rows of suckers to pry apart the two halves of the mussel shell. The starfish will push its own stomach out through its mouth and into the mussel. After it eats the mussel, the starfish pulls its stomach back where it belongs!


Written by Kathleen Kudlinski

Illustrated by Lindy Burnett

NorthWord, 2007

Kudlinski's book focuses on the effect the changing tides have along the coast and on the creatures who live near the shore. In this book, we see a young boy adventuring out with his notebook and pencils and paints. Evidently, he is a young scientist prepared to record the natural wonders he'll observe in the sand, in the ocean, and in shallow tidal pools. The author's lyrical text has rhythm and repetition that echo the movement of the ocean and the changing tides. Burnett's gouache illustrations with their shifting perspectives and use of light capture well the body language of an inquisitive child, the sunlight shimmering in shallow waters, and the passage of a day from dawn into evening.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Snails hide in their shells
in the shadows until...
surging, submerging, the tide rolls in.
Then the snails slither out,
scouring food from the rocks.

In addition to surging and submerging, Kudlinski uses other pairs of rhyming words to describe the movement of the incoming sea: curling, swirling; creeping, seeping; crashing, splashing; gushing, rushing. The author also describes the movements and actions of gulls and sea creatures with verbs such as the following: soar, dart, peck, scamper, scurry, stretch, poke, pinch, slurp, dart, nibble, flee, slither, hover, dip, wilt, circle. She has chosen her words well.

THE SEASIDE SWITCH would be a fine book to read aloud to a young child before setting out for a day at the beach...or after a day spent investigating the creatures that inhabit the shallow waters and the tide pools along the coast.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Well...I think something funny is going on in the kidlitosphere! First, it was Kelly Herold's computer that crashed not so long ago. This morning it was my computer. My husband--who is much better with technology than I--just set off for Canada. He left behind one of his laptops, which has no word processing.

I know, I know...I should have backed up all my files--but I didn't! I was planning on getting a brand new computer soon. I guess not soon enough. Michele, don't scold me! I've learned my lesson.

Everyone, keep your fingers crossed that I'll be able to retrieve all my files--especially my children's literature course syllabus and all my poetry manuscripts. I've had luck before when my computer got zapped twice during lightning storms in two successive summers and a wonderful tech at my husband's company retrieved EVERYTHING for me.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: July 8, 2007

Head on over to the website of The Children’s Book Council to check out their Summer Reading Extravaganza 2007.

Travel over to Planet Esme for her “rocking” recommendations of nonfiction books for children.

Carnival Reminder: Alkelda of Saints and Spinners will be hosting the July Carnival of Children’s Literature: The Play’s the Thing. Deadline for submissions is July 20th.

Robin Brande has a hotel update for people planning to attend the 1st Annual Kidlitosphere Conference.

Stop by and wish Jules and Eisha of the fabulous 7-Imp a Happy First Blogiversary!

The irreverent Mother Reader has done it again—written a hilarious post you won’t want to miss reading entitled The Tinkerbell Policy.

Becky has the Poetry Friday Roundup for July 6th at Farm School.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Children's Poetry Books & The 2007 Cybils

Last fall, I had the pleasure of serving as one of the five members of the Cybils poetry-nominating panel. As a panelist, I read and evaluated twenty-six children’s poetry books—a few of which were exceptional. I felt that several other poetry books were strong enough to recommend without hesitation. There were also books whose quality of poetry was uneven—books in which some of the poems were excellent and others were just mediocre.

Now that we have passed the midway mark of the current year, I have begun to revisit the children’s poetry books that I’ve read and reviewed to date at Blue Rose Girls and at Wild Rose Reader—books that will be eligible for a 2007 Cybils Award. I have included links to my reviews of these books below. In my opinion, all are fine books. I’d like to mention that in addition to having poetry of quality, the books also have wonderful illustrations. (Note: I haven’t written reviews of all the poetry collections and anthologies that I’ve read this year.)

If you have read any/all of these books—I’d really like to know what you think. Do you have a favorite among them? What other children’s poetry books published in 2007 would you recommend?


Written by Janet Wong
Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Written by Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian

Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski


Collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters


Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Let me know what poetry collections and anthologies published in 2007 that you would recommend to me and other blog readers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fireworks for the Fourth of July!

I wasn't planning on posting today--but I just remembered that I have a poem about fireworks that I wrote for a collection of acrostic poems entitled What's in a Word?--a collection that is unlikely to ever be published. Here is the poem:

Fiery flowers bloom
In the night:
Roses, carnations…chrysanthemums, too,
Emerald green, red,
White, and blue. Silvery fountains spill
Out of the sky.
Rockets of gold sizzle and sigh.
Kaleidoscope colors cascading in space,
Showering glitter all over the place.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Picture Book Review: Apple Pie 4th of July

Today, I thought I’d write a review of one of my favorite multicultural pictures books. It is perfect for reading on Independence Day.

Written by Janet Wong
Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Harcourt, 2002

This story takes place on Independence Day. The book’s main character is a Chinese-American girl whose parents were not born in the United States. Her parents own a store that is open 364 days a year—even on Thanksgiving. She feels that they don’t understand all “American things.”

The girl smells an apple pie baking in a neighbor's oven upstairs. She thinks her parents are foolish for cooking Chinese food. She is sure that no one will want to eat sweet-and-sour pork, egg rolls, noodles, or chow mein on the Fourth of July. She tells her parents—but they don’t listen.

Throughout most of the day the young girl is proven right. People come into the store to buy soda and potato chips…to buy ice cream and ice and matches. Then at five o’clock, a steady stream of "Americans" begins filing into the store until closing time to pick up…Chinese food! The story ends after the store closes and the girl and her family climb the stairs to the rooftop where they watch the fireworks display…and eat apple pie.

Wong's APPLE PIE 4TH OF JULY is a straightforward tale that expresses the feelings that many children who are first generation Americans experience—feelings that their parents don’t quite “get it”…that their families aren’t truly American. It is a simply told story with a brief text. Chodos-Irvine’s illustrations add meaning and capture the emotions of the young girl—her boredom, her frustration, her embarrassment and wistful sadness—with facial expressions and body language. This is a picture book in which art and text meld perfectly to tell a truly American tale.

Click here to see some of Chodos-Irvine's illustrations from APPLE PIE 4TH OF JULY.

Click here to see a video of Janet Wong reading APPLE PIE 4TH OF JULY for Easter at the White House in 2003.